Sunday, August 29, 2010

lazy hazy crazy

Today was supposed to be all productive and writing, but that hasn't worked out so well. At least updating is writing and that's much closer to what I should be doing today than aimlessly surfing the interwebs.

It's been a busy month. That policy course I was taking, while officially over, now refuses to finish. We are still doing interviews, etc. and the course ended nearly two weeks ago. Uncharacteristically, I am not being very helpful to the group paper we are putting together. But I have bigger fish, er, snails to fry. Preferably in garlic and butter. I am in the process of writing grant proposals, but extra funding for my project has materialized, seemingly out of thin air for me to go in a very interesting direction. And not exactly in a direction that I thought I would be moving into: next generation sequencing and transcriptomics. I don't know what that means either*. I am very excited and overwhelmed by it all -- it's not every day that people are coming to you wanting to give you extra money for research.

So that's all very good.

My next feat will be to move into my office. I have a key, all I'm missing is a desk. That isn't being used by someone else. Long story short, some people may look like grown-ups, but they behave like children. Especially when it comes to sharing.

So, the next few weeks I will be reading and writing, writing and reading. With a short break to go out collecting. And getting a better idea of what exactly I want to do with my new-found research monies.

*Okay, that's not true. Mostly.

Monday, August 16, 2010

it's raining ants

Two things I forgot (or tried to forget) that I didn't like about living in the tropics:

1) Ants are everywhere. Especially my kitchen. We have a serious issue with some kind of little tiny ants that go everywhere, and get into all of my food. Including this morning's breakfast. I'm not impressed when my cereal has legs. On the plus side, at least I noticed before I started eating.

2) Rain. It rains a lot, and when it does I just want to sleep. And as an added bonus, it makes it hard to catch the elusive taxis.

That is all.
We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

Saturday, August 7, 2010


And back to Panama...
Things here are as hot and humid as ever, though I and my colleagues probably have more warming on the brains than ever before. My first few weeks here are being spent doing a course in Environmental Policy -- mostly in discussion of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), two major pieces of international legislation that include various associated protocols. One you may have heard of called the Kyoto Protocol.

You would think that a course in policy could be taught anywhere in the world, but the professors are working hard to make being in Panama worthwhile, particularly for students that aren't based here for research. This week has been all about getting the nuts and bolts under our belts so that next week we can hand in a short paper, participate in a negotiation simulation (hence the title of this post) and then start working on a term paper that involves interviewing local stakeholders that may be impacted by international policies. The professors have many contacts here, and I can't imagine getting the same things out of a similar course taught in Canada. Sure, we would get the same basic understanding of the policies, but not the same opportunities to meet and talk to people working with government, NGOs and other countries to make these policies happen. I'll admit to not looking forward to the negotiation simulation next week -- I've never been particularly good at those sort of things, and there's a reason that I'm in biology and not a field that requires negotiation! Maybe my taxi haggling skills will come in handy?

Other than being snowed under with reading and work, it's good to be back. Of course, I miss being at home, but for the moment I'm too busy to think about it. Today it was nice to enjoy sleeping in, having a late brunch with my housemates and doing standard things like laundry.

I'm looking forward to getting to my own work, and I'm excited to have already made a few contacts here at the Smithsonian that will help me with new directions in my research, but that will have to wait at least a week or two. Though not too long... grant deadlines are looming.